Brahmacharini Nishita Chaitanya

16 Nov

“The Chinmaya’s Mission’s motto is to give maximum happiness to maximum people for maximum time” ~ Brahmacharini Nishita Chaitanya

As a young girl we spent Friday afternoons at the Chinmaya Mission Ashram learning about Hinduism, posing questions and debating ideals that simply did not apply to modern life. We met many Acharya’s, religious instructors, but it had to have been Brahmacharini Nishita Chaitanya who left the greatest impact on us. A Psychologist from Australia who gave up all the pleasures of life to take up the robes, she openly admits that she was looking for a better reason for being on earth, “I was searching for meaning, a deeper purpose for my existence. I felt there had to be more than just a job, physical possessions and the images we all portray.” It was when she came across the teachings of Swami Chinmayananda, that she hit a home run. It was in 1998 that Nishitaji committed herself to a life of service. She quickly became the Acharya of Chinmaya Mission in Hong Kong and gained immense popularity amongst mission followers. Her honest and comtemporary views have made her a favorite amongst the youth who have learnt to apply traditional values to their modern lives only to achieve the ultimate balance in life. Read on as Brahmacharini Nishita Chaitanya speaks to Roshni Magazine about her life in robes, the mission and her motivation to make a difference.

What is the Chinmaya Mission?
The Chinmaya Mission is a global Hindu organization that aims to touch and transform all aspects of human life. As a spiritual movement that aims for inner growth at individual and collective levels, the Mission offers a wide array of Vedanta study forums for all ages, promotes Indian classical art forms, and operates numerous social service projects.

What drew you to the Chinmaya Mission?
What struck me straight away about Chinmaya Mission was the Clarity of Logic and the Simplicity of the Guru. There were no miracles, no paparazzi, no unnecessary packaging, just the Teacher; The Guru explaining the scriptures to the students.

What were you doing before you became a part of the Mission?
Prior to joining the Mission, I was working as a counselor having gained an equivalent to a Masters in Psychology.

What was the process from deciding to join the Mission to becoming a Brahmacharini?
I was a CHYK in Melbourne, in charge of camps and classes when I decided to join the two and a half year Vedanta training course in Powai, Mumbai. The course was monastic and very strict. We studied the scriptures; we studied Sanskrit, the language of the scriptures, so we could understand the words of the scriptures directly. We had to get up at 4.30 AM daily and do our Vedic chanting. We were trained to give discourses and explain the scriptures. We also underwent oral and written tests. For the entire duration of the course, we did not leave the Ashram grounds, had limited contact with our families, the media, technology— the world in general! On completion, if our Guru thought we were fit, and if we so desired, we were given the robes and sent to a Mission Centre to serve as a Brahmacharni.

How has life changed after you became a part of the Chinmaya Mission?
After taking the robes life changed in the sense that I belonged to a much larger family, so there was a sense of responsibility to maintain the honor and respect given to the robes. I had a continuous reminder of the fact that no one can change another person or situation, what we can do is do the best in the part we play and attempt to inspire people to change by being the kind of person we would respect. As a spiritual organization, Chinmaya Mission is project orientated. We have a constant need to educate people on culture and spirituality. I found my niche in teaching children.

How did you find the move to Hong Kong?
When I first moved to Hong Kong from Australia, it was an immense cultural shock. The physical environment of tall concrete buildings, work being given more priority than family time, the social hierarchy – it was all so different. I had to re-educate myself to understand the psyche of the man in the street. My time in Hong Kong has really broadened my understanding of society and societal issues.

What has been the most satisfying part of being a Brahmacharini?
The appreciation or gratitude on the face of the people who have benefited from the knowledge. What keeps me inspired is seeing the knowledge transform people’s lives. The icing on the cake is when people praise Gurudev –Swami Chinmayananda, when they can see His brilliance, when they come to a point where they no longer need me as they can see the way themselves.

You are also a writer of some very interesting children’s books which are based on the Hindu Gods. What made you decide to write these books?
Many of my Balavihar mothers complained to me that our Puranic stories were too violent and they didn’t like telling their kids those stories at bedtime. Also they couldn’t relate to those stories and answer their kids’ questions. I was saddened by this as our Puranic stories are full of values, but couldn’t find any books that I could recommend. So I started telling these stories in my classes and the kids loved them. But I wanted to reach more children, so I thought I would write these stories as books. That way the Puranic stories get told, the values maintained and the mothers have a resource to use.

What does the Chinmaya Mission hope to achieve?
Our Mission is to provide to individuals from any background, the wisdom of Vedanta and the practical means for spiritual growth and happiness, enabling them to become positive contributors to society. Our Motto is to give maximum happiness to maximum people for maximum time.

Where do you see the future of the Mission going?
We are not an ambitious organization. As the society changes, so will their needs. I see the Mission’s role to be mainly to fulfill the needs of the time.

Do you feel that nowadays a lot of the younger generations are not interested in their culture and religion? How does the Mission attract and keep the youth?
For youth of every generation culture and religion is just not a priority, its not that they are not interested. And this is true for most people in most generations! Gurudev’s vision was to inculcate values in children via Balavihar so when they grew into youngsters they were dynamic and full of potential just waiting to be harnessed. However for those youth that did not grow up with the Mission, we attract them by providing answers to their questions and showing them how religion enhances their daily life

What message do you have for the youth?
We get told that youth are our future, no, you are the present and you can create your own future.

~ Roshni M.
(November 2009)

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